WARREN, Ohio – Dan Cook had a few things planned for Friday, but they were quickly postponed to make way for an all-day event that will benefit a Warren Community Pillar.
Rick Stockburger, CEO and President of Brite Energy Innovators, reached out to Cook earlier this week and invited him to Britehack 2021 to lead a problem-solving team. Cook owns Solarstone Energy & Finance, which is focused on commercial, industrial and utility solar projects primarily in Ohio.
Cook used his expertise with his teammates – Maddy Urig, Jude Dupart and Robert Jadloski – to support Trumbull Family Fitness, the beneficiary of this year’s Britehack event.
At the virtual hackathon on Friday – an all-day event from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. – the participants came up with ideas on how to reduce energy costs and improve efficiency at Trumbull Family Fitness. The organization is based in the former YMCA building in downtown Warren. Due to the age and condition of the building, it is not energy efficient and has an electricity bill between $ 3,500 and $ 4,000 a month, according to General Manager Paulette Edington.
A jury – including Bill Whittenberger, Brite’s Chief Technical Officer – selected Cook’s team as the winner and received a first prize of $ 1,244. The other judges were Dick Thompson, Thompson Foundation, electrical engineer and entrepreneur; Kurt Sauer, Sauer Engineering; Alan Burnett, Burnett Pools; and Keith Bowser, Clark Dietrich.
The runner-up team, which took home $ 777 in prize money, had Muhammad Ejaz as team leader with Ron Butch, Derek Cowburn and Clara Oromendia.
The coronavirus pandemic made this year’s Britehack more difficult because the teams met virtually and could not visit the building.
“It’s hard to get an idea when you’re not there and can’t really look under the hood,” said Cook. Finally, the teams were able to make their own assessment thanks to a bespoke website for the event that included 360-degree images of the building. They also had access to electricity and gas bills, floor plans, a statement detailing the issues with Trumbull Family Fitness, as well as the calculated energy use per device.
The team followed a draft in which they introduced each other and figured out what problem they had to solve. What options did you consider for your solution and why did you choose this solution? The solution consisted of an analysis, a design and calculations. Each team presented its cost-benefit analysis and the next steps for Trumbull Family Fitness.
“It was harder than I thought,” said Cook. “The passage helped us, in a way, to prioritize just because again you don’t know what it looks like inside. They don’t know how the building is treated, how it is used. Exercise bikes are available in the lobby when you walk in. It makes you think twice and think about what is really important to this institution that has been here for so long. “
There are four main switches that power Trumbull Family Fitness and its equipment, including lights, steam boilers, pool pumps, filters and heaters, exercise equipment, and other items as needed. The electricity comes from a single grid connection and there are no backup generators for the system.
Outdated lighting in a second floor hallway at Trumbull Family Fitness.
If the power goes out, the main pool will continue to drain through a gravity-fed drain, losing 100,000 gallons of water, causing flooding in the basement.
“I imagine the basement has flooded a few times, maybe to the ceiling,” Cook said. “It’s more than just efficiency. This is more than cost savings. It’s more than just reducing your operating costs. “
As for the lights, Edington sees the front lobby and knows they are on at the same time in the adjoining boys’ locker room that has not been used all afternoon. She hopes the Britehack team members can come up with a plan to separate these access points and light switches.
“That would help us save electricity, a lot of electricity,” said Edington.
She said switching to all the LED lights that has taken place in several other parts of the building would save Trumbull Family Fitness on their monthly utility bills.
However, she hopes the recommendations will fit with Trumbull Family Fitness, whether it be upgrading the electrical panels or upgrading other parts of the building.
“We may have to distribute some things, but I am confident that they will develop some kind of blueprint to let us know about the next steps,” she said. “I think we may have to plan this because I know that whatever that plan is going to be, there will be a high cost involved.”
A proper energy audit, Cook said, could reveal more options for the gym and get Trumbull Family Fitness on track to implement comprehensive solutions.
“You need to bring in some electrical contractors, do a good job and hopefully get a good return on investment,” Cook said.
Daniel Sylak, Marketing and Events Specialist at Brite, said that each attendee was asked a series of questions when they registered to get a better idea of people’s experience levels and backgrounds, including daily tasks.
He said this helped figure out who would be a suitable team leader and then build teams from there.
“Based on the experience and educational background of the people, whether engineers, project managers or business people,” he said, “we have put together curated teams based on what we believe to be the fairest distribution of skills.”
Britehack 2021 was sponsored by the Western Reserve Port Authority and the Thompson Foundation, while Covelli Enterprises and AVI Foodsystems were food partners. FirstEnergy Corp. and Cortland Bank were award sponsors. PNC Bank was the title sponsor while WFMJ-TV was the media sponsor.
“It’s an important agency, not just for us to grow growth from the start, but also for our community,” said Anthony Trevena, Director of Economic Development for the Port Authority and Vice-Chairman of Brite.
“Britehack is a particularly important event this year as it benefits Trumbull Family Fitness, which aims to improve the quality of life for everyone in the community,” said Ted Schmidt, PNC regional president in Youngstown, who has been for more than a decade collaborates with Brit.
“As a founding member and investor, this organization started 11 years ago as an incubator concept [Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center] Being recognized as a national, regional and state incubator with a focus on energy and entrepreneurship development has been a rewarding experience, “added Stan Feret, Chief Lending Officer and British Treasurer of Cortland Bank.
Ralph Zerbonia, co-founder of the Business Journal, was part of the winning group in 2018 and team leader this year.
“I thought it would be fun to take part,” he said. “You know, the uninvolved life is not worth living, just on that basis.”
He found the prospect of Britehack fascinating, if you will, stunning. Zerbonia, who lives in Mahoning County, calls himself a generalist, listens to the group and asks the obvious questions specialists may not realize. He remembers his experience in 2018 as a “fly on the wall” and studied a topic that he finds interesting in a room full of experts.
“It’s really nice,” said Zerbonia. “You learn. You hear people logically process a problem and realize that you may not understand everything, but you can make something of it and use it elsewhere. Problems are problems. “
Pictured: Paulette Edington, General Manager of Trumbull Family Fitness, shows the treadmills in the facility’s gym in downtown Warren.
Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.